:: Tuesday, December 14, 2004 ::
Sparkling Example Of Excellence [/Sarcasm]
My home school district, Naperville Community Unit School District #203, failed to make "Adequate Yearly Progress" under the No Child Left Behind act. While I fully realize that NCLB is a load of crap (and stale at that), I take nearly every chance I get to level pot shots at them, seeing as I know firsthand how messed up their "gifted" program is. The reasons for the districts NCLB failure related mostly to the scores their special ed students posted on Reading and Math - evidence of the district's larger failure to competently deal with ANYONE who deviates from the strictly defined norm. I will admit that I'm not familiar with the district's high schools' honors tracks, since I chose to bail on the district and go to the local, well-regarded Catholic high school, but I've heard that it's more of the same.
Part of my continued dislike of the district comes from stories I've heard about the "Naperville Academy" program, which was started at one of the high schools to target above-average students who were significantly underachieving. Seeing as how the district fails to challenge most of its smarter students at the K-8 level, the fact that this is a substantial population is in itself a condemnation of the district's academic effectiveness. The district's gifted students also weren't helped when the junior highs decided to effectively end the gifted program and "mainstream" the gifted students into the normal classes. In any case, the district had created this population, and was, to its credit, trying to deal with it. The "Naperville Academy" program was supposed to offer a different learning environment that allowed for more self-paced learning in an attempt to reach out to such students. I'm not aware of the studies or theories behind providing such an environment and I was deprived of a working example, since, due to some sort of budget cut, the program was saddled with not only the gifted underachievers, but also many of the students who had behavioral disorders. Behavioral students take a disproportionate amount of effort to teach and control in a classroom situation, and an unstructured environment is exactly what they don't need. Underachievers, already a passive bunch, will let the staff of any program ignore them and focus on the behavioral students, ultimately defeating the original point of separating out the underachieving students. Yet, somehow, this never occurred to the district administration.
Maybe I'm just projecting my own experiences with District 203 onto its other aspects, but I seriously doubt that a district that can't handle people whose only difference is to be smart can deal adequately with students who have academic difficulties, and the whole NCLB thing seems to back me up.
:: The Squire 8:38 PM :: email this post :: ::